Five Ways Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Businesses in Recruiting

It may seem like big companies get all the attention from job-seekers, but small businesses are a key piece of the economy. Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms and 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs. The presence of large companies like FedEx, ServiceMaster, AutoZone, International Paper and others benefits Memphis. However, small business owners may wonder how they can compete for top talent. Salary matters in recruiting and retention, but alternative benefits can provide added value to sway prospective employees. Consider the following to implement in your business (and then communicate to new talent prospects).

Flexibility and Work/Life Balance

With fewer employees, small businesses don’t always need to require everyone to be in the office at the same time. Instead, consider letting trustworthy employees set their own hours, within reason. For instance, an employee may have a later start and end time adjusted to traffic flow on their commute. Likewise, if an employee occasionally needs to take care of personal errands during the day, allow them to make up hours in the evening or on the weekend.

Casual Environment

If it fits the industry, relax the dress code. Employees may appreciate not having to wear suits every day. Studies show that employees who are allowed to dress more casually work harder and longer because they aren’t distracted by the appearance and discomfort of a more formal business attire. The office itself may also be more laid back. Instead of having all meetings in a conference room, opt to have some in a more comfortable seating area.

Engaged Employees

Small businesses have the opportunity to create closer relationships between leadership and employees. Gallup research has shown that organizations with engaged employees out-perform those with low employee engagement by 202 percent. Leadership should share overarching goals with employees, and employees should feel comfortable freely bringing thoughts to leadership. In smaller companies, there is naturally less red tape. The camaraderie among a small, committed team is extremely attractive to employees.

Excellent Training Grounds

Small businesses often provide opportunities for employees to take on varied responsibilities, thus expanding their knowledge and expertise in their field. Smaller companies can be a thrilling training ground where employees can discover what they love. Sell your potential hires on the opportunity for future advancement within your company and beyond.

Rapid Growth

This is attractive for employees who don’t want to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. Make sure employees and new hires know a small business can offer them mobility to evolve into different roles, along with a purpose and the chance to be an integral part of the company’s success. A recent survey found that bad culture and lack of growth path clarity are the biggest worries for employees. These are important to keep employees motivated.

These points highlight a few ways small businesses compete with large businesses for top talent. A business shouldn’t be judged solely on its size. When all is said and done, your small business and its employees should be the right fit for each other.


Davis, Shane. Wed, 24 Aug 2016. “Five Ways Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Businesses in Recruiting” Retrieved from:


Photograph from (2016, August 24). Five Ways Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Businesses in Recruiting. Memphis, TN:

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